By on April 27, 2015

Brooker Hwy 25, Australia

After only selling close to 250 Volts in Australia since its introduction in 2012, the decision was made to not import the second-generation extended range electric vehicle, even though it features less-quirky styling and an improved electric drivetrain.

But, if Australia was a left-hand drive country, would this be an issue?

Thanks to laws in Australia prohibiting the sale of left-hand drive vehicles, should an automaker want to sell a vehicle Down Under, it must be converted to right-hand drive. For a number of vehicles, due to packaging constraints, this is not feasible from an engineering perspective. More often than not, while it might be technically doable, it just isn’t financially prudent – as is the case with the newly-cancelled Holden Volt.

Countries driving on the left or right

Folks, its 2015 and we still live in a world where, depending on what country you live in, you drive on one side of the road or the other. Isn’t it time for this to change?

It would certainly make it a lot easier for automakers to develop, engineer, and sell global models. It would make roadways safer (every year there’s always at least one tourist here driving on the wrong side of the road, usually around a roundabout). Australians could get all the Volts and F-150s they want. We could have saved the Australian ute. Everyone could have been happy.

What do you think, B&B? Is it time to ditch right-hand drive?

[Image source: Wiki ian (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons/Benjamin D. Esham [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]

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166 Comments on “QOTD: Is It Time for Lefty Countries to Drive on the Right Side of the Road?...”


  • avatar
    fronch

    After many Toyotas my first Mazda 6 in 2003 was a revelation, it did Zoom Zoom!!!. Then after 7 years with a VW Passat diesel (lovely car, slow pickup, eye watering service and repair costs) went back to Mazda with a CX5 Max Sport diesel (129KW, 420NM, twin turbo)that has rekindled my smile. Fantastic pickup, great response passing and cornering for an SUV.
    Will Mazda bring the diesel to the US?

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      I say, that’s a handsome devil in your avatar

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Um, huh?

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @CoreyDL,
        It appears the troll from PUTC has arisen on TTAC.

        The guy constantly hounds me when an indepth discussion involving the Chicken Tax arises.

        Maybe TTAC moderators can do something about him.

        He’s hard to catch as PUTC/Car.com have been trying for years.

        He constantly changes his IP and Mac Addresses, etc to stay in front.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al From 'Murica

          I’m just another poster that is sick of your “in depth discussions” as you call them that are actually diatribes on how we Americans are too stupid to realize big trucks suck. I’ve been a member of this site long enough to remember when a banning would result in the awarding of a dunce cap avatar.

          Course that was back when we discussed cars on this site. There is a reason someone who has been a member as long as I have no longer cares if they get banned.

          You call the guys article idiotic and I’m the troll? You do nothing but try to spin people up. That would seem the very definition of a troll. And mods, no need to worry about banning again, I will stick to commenting in Piston Slap articles and ATS cluster discussions. And perhaps discussions on a certain little car. What was it called….the Chevette? No…the SHOVEIT!

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al From 'Murica

          And no Al, but in my profession I could certainly stay ahead, but I have no need to in this case.

          As to the moderators doing something one can scroll back through and see you constantly hurling insults…calling folks dimwits and what not. Then you cry for people to get banned. Unbelievable.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Big Al From ‘Murica,
            So you are trolling and do use another name on this site?

            As for you attempt to introduce an anti American theme into your argument is mute.

            I believe in free trade. Simple.

            I have yet to even support protectionism in Australia. Does that make me anti Australian?

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Big Al From ‘Murica,
            As for my style of interaction with others.

            I do treat those who want a healthy and mature dialogue to be respected by myself.

            I do interact with respect to those that warrant it.

            Those that don’t use my name, and I’ve highlighted this multiple time are not worthy of my respect.

            Just because a person uses a passive-aggressive style doesn’t mean his comments are any less disrespectful or aggressive than my usual retort. It is how I roll.

            People that purposely misinform I will correct. There’s no need for that, unless there is an underlying representation or interest that forces them to lack sincerity.

            This is the Truth About Cars. I write what I see the truth to be. As with US pickups many will be offended or fear my comments.

            But they are true. I can furnish links to justify most any comment I make.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I object to this use of this handle.

            I scroll past BAFO’s posts, and you’ve now increased the odds that I may read one of them by mistake. Surely you can find a way to mock him without inconveniencing me…

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al From 'Murica

            Again, not trolling but aparantly anyone calling you out is so whatever. Fortunately your respect is not something to which I aspire.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Pch101,
            Then why did you become involved? Hmmm…

            You are one who constatny uses tainted information and data I speak of.

            This will end when TTAC removes Big Al from Murica from the site. As his entry is only a troll and he is using a couple of names, which if you were smarter you would of addressed.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al From 'Murica

            And dammit…It is MOOT…Not Mute.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al From 'Murica

            Yep, 2 names. One goes back to the Farago days. I make no attempt to hide them. Like I said, if I am out of line assign the dunce cap avatar and I’ll be on my merry way.

            Otherwise I’d love to get back to automotive discussion not involving little pickups unless it is of the one I own and know of its shortcomings all too well.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Will the real Big Al please stand up?

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al From 'Murica

          And honestly I don’t even know of the other sites you are discussing. MAC isn’t relevant here (though yes, one could spoof it but unless I am on the same LAN as TTAC it doesn’t matter.

          The problem with banning IPs is that most end users don’t actually have one. DHCP from the ISP and NAT on home routers make that difficult. This assumes IPv4.

          Now if you want to discuss the intricacies of IP routing I’d be happy to engage you there versus the chicken tax.

          But like I said earlier, I’ve changed nothing.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            BAFM is articulate. Let’s keep him and let the Saracens take BAFO.

          • 0 avatar
            raph

            Is there a Big Al from ever continent? If so do all the Big Als converge for a Big Alderburg meeting where they discuss I’m secret their plans for world domination?

            Inquiring minds want to know!

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      “This QOTD is totally ridiculous, anyway, and betrays a lack of knowledge of the automotive scene globally. Disappointing.”

      Well we agree on that. Global knowledge of the Automotive scene at this site, could be placed on s pinhead with space to spare

  • avatar
    RobertRyan

    @Mark Stevenson,
    Pretty idiotic article, it is a lot easier to make the vehicles RHD, every other country except the US makes RHD and LHD vehicles As far as the Volt goes, it suffers from “who wants it syndrome” Looks like many in the U.S. arenot fans of it either.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s harsh. While the Volt may not be the best example, I am sure Aussies would love to see more American-style pickups (at least there seems to be a demand from what I’ve been reading).

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        @Mark Stevenson,
        I saw roughly seven U.S. 1/2 tons going around eight countries in Europe. Pretty well sums up the Global demand. You can sell maybe a 1000 U.S. HD Pickups are year in Australia, but outside of that , no

      • 0 avatar

        I saw Tundras in Japan, so it’s not really a question of LHD/RHD (except perhaps their silly laws down under). BTW, Russians buy a ton of RHD cars.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        >> I am sure Aussies would love to see more American-style pickups

        Apparently, FCA agrees with you:
        http://www.autoblog.com/2015/04/14/ram-trucks-export-australia-new-zealand/

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @mcs,
          I would love to see RHD versions manufactured. But our market is small.

          The Ram will be quite limited in the link you’ve given.

          But, our market would be the only market outside of the US that has the affluence, cheap fuel and transport infrastructure to operate them.

          I would be interested in seeing if the next Titan has the same front suspension, interior (dash dimensions) as the Patrol.

          If it did I would buy a ISD V8 Cummins Titan and bring it over and do the conversion myself. It would be cheaper than the Ram conversions.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @Big Al From Oz
            Ford Australia did build F350’s in the 1970’s but take up was not dramatic. Probably different today with the vast number of Grey Nomads wandering around

            http://static1.prod.justauto.com.au/just_images/bccda1ee-cba6-4b31-98fa-a37e19758a11/bccda1ee-cba6-4b31-98fa-a37e19758a11-atlg.jpg

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @RobertRyan,
            Another significant issue with US made vehicles is quality.

            Even at the moment FCA’s Chyseler, Dodge and Jeep names are still highlighting the US perceive US made quality issues.

            Toyota doesn’t advertise that the Kluger is coming out of the US. Even BMW doesn’t highlight that many of their CUVs/SUVs come from the US.

            The US has a poor name globally regarding vehicle quality. This will take time to mend.

            But, FCA isn’t helping at the moment.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @Mark Stevenson,
        Australia would buy more US style pickups if they were available in RHD.

        The amount though wouldn’t warrant the manufacture of them. The total figures would be less than 10k per year.

        A simple way to look at the US pickup globally is to see how successful they’ve been over the past 50-60 years.

        Essentially very few want them, even in LHD nations. For their size they are very limited for work. Even in the US most are SUV/car alternatives.

        The US pickup has evolved into a dinosaur. It’s a pity as I do like them. The other problem now is the US’es Big 3 are ever reliant on their profits.

        Speaking of profits, in the US a full size has around a 25% profit margin, the figure sound familiar. Cars have a 3% profit margin, quite surprising.

        So, you can see if changes are made that affect their production it will impact the manufacturers. They don’t want changes, unless it supports the US full size.

        Read up on Easter Island and it’s demise, the US pickup is heading down that path.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Isn’t correct Robert;)

    • 0 avatar
      Beemernator

      I agree. This is the stupidest article on TTAC ever.

      There are millions of RHD cars on the road already. Driving on the other side of the road in them will be dangerous. Those in the third world keep their cars for a long, long time. It will take decades for the fleet to go LHD. Educating drivers to change a lifelong habit will be a nightmare.

      Then there is the little matter of road signs, traffic lights, toll booths that have to be moved around. And road markings that to be repainted. The roads and drivers are unsafe enough as it is.

      All of this just because GM can’t be bothered to build RHD Volts? Genius idea.

  • avatar
    Ron B.

    The volt was an example of Australia labor party throwing money at things to get votes. People hated the Rudd/ Gillard labor government with a passion and refused to buy a car which needed to be plugged in which they associate with the $600 bln. debt we now have. If you have ever driven between cities in OZ,you would understand that such a device is just plain stupid here. Where do you plug in when the nearest town is 100KM’s away?

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @ Ron B,
      Best thing you have said, disagree with a lot but spot on there

    • 0 avatar
      pdl2dmtl

      Look, voters quarrel with the government in power aside, Volt is the best hybrid vehicle for people with range anxiety. 60 miles would not be a problem, even 120 miles round trip. You seem to forget that distances in N America can be even greater in-between cities. I doubt it that the vast majority of the Volt owners buy them to drive more than 100 miles each day.
      It seems that Volt is very expensive in Australia and the government tax breaks are not helping much. I hope this is not a case of the grapes being out of reach….

    • 0 avatar
      Mattsterzz

      If the labor govt was still in power, the debt would’ve been eliminated by 2018 anyway. Sure, electric cars dont work in Australia, and the whole programme was a flop, but that has nothing to do with our debt

  • avatar
    motormouth

    That map only supports the case for global driving on the right due to land mass. If you notice, the small – but key – markets such as Japan and the UK drive on the left and India is one of the most densely populated countries on the planet.

    Further, the prohibitive cost of converting to driving on the right would have to be met by the tax payer, and I don’t think anyone’s going to be keen to dump hundreds of millions into a plan that simply benefits carmakers and their development programs.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @motormouth
      30% of the Worlds population drive RHD, including very populous countries. What is hard to fathom, why the US ignores this market?

      • 0 avatar
        RideHeight

        And since “populous” is a euphemism for “impoverished hellhole” how much of a lure is that?

        • 0 avatar
          TonyJZX

          they should have harmonised standards a long time ago

          I think everyone should use UNECE.

          There’s really no reason why everyone doesnt. It goes beyond mere LHD/RHD.

          Also the cars is the easy thing, how about the infrastructure and public mindset.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          @Rideheight
          Japan is one of those “hellholes” and it does not fit the description

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            Neither is it “populous” by the standards of, say, India or Indonesia. Otherwise the infamous “highways to nowhere” pork-funded by the LDP would have millions of starving poor sleeping under them. And it’s shedding population more rapidly than any other nation AFIK.

      • 0 avatar

        Far less than 30%.

        India: ~1 billion
        INdonesia 200 million
        Japan 120 million
        UK ~80 million
        Oz 25 million
        Thailand don’t know, not going to look it up now, but probably <100 million

        1.5 billion total, which is 1/4 of the world’s 7.5 billion .

        Car ownership in India and Indonesia is probably well less than half

        In the ’60s, Sweden switched to driving on the right. They had fewer crashes than normal for the year after the switch. But they’re a small, homogeneous country. And it made a lot of sense because Sweden is part of Europe. I suspect Australia and Japan could pretty easily make the switch. In India it would be total chaos, and probably not much better in Indonesia.

        Might be beneficial for Australia, but they may benefit from getting used cars from Japan, which basically forces people to trade in long before the cars are worn out.

        Would probably be beneficial for UK.

        Interesting question.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          I always wondered why some countries choose RHD, and others LHD. So why can’t we in the US switch from LHD to RHD?

          I have driven both LHD and RHD when visiting other countries and find no problems with either.

          I was in Europe when Sweden switched and it was no problem for them, people had to be more cautious until they got used to it.

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            Supposedly, France picked the right side of the road to drive on, so Britain picked left out of pride. Everyone else picked one or the other to emulate, depending on cultural influences at the dawn of the 20th century.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            bumpy ii, so it must have been a Napoleonic thing, like the Census and proper names mandated across all of France and its conquered lands, way back when.

            Before my time, but interesting to learn where it originated.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            A keep-left rule was imposed on London Bridge in 1756. Napoleon wasn’t even a twinkle in his father’s eye when that rule came into being.

            There is no definitive answer to the question, as it wasn’t usually relevant until the car become commonplace. There were areas in continental Europe that drove on the left until Hitler forced them to switch.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Interesting.

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            There are plenty of theories. As for the US, one that seems reasonable is that when driving horse- or ox-pulled carts, it was desirable to not accidentally hit opposing traffic with your whip. And since most people are right handed, that led to passing on the right.

            As for modern cars, that’s one reason I prefer LHD–my dominant hand is the one to operate ‘free-motion’ actions, like shifting, operating the stereo & other controls, grabbing an item, etc., while my non-dominant hand only has to move the steering wheel through its one degree of freedom.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            According to FHWA, Americans have long tended to drive on the right, in large part because of the design of the Conestoga wagon. Also, US roads tended to have drainage ditches located along either side, and traveling on the right made it easier to stay out of the ditch.

            But these rules were not strictly applied until cars became prevalent. This video of San Francisco from 1905 shows how chaotic traffic was at the time — it generally kept to the right, but it was disorderly and there was plenty of haphazard movement, including several cars that drove on the wrong side when it suited them. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnDjmNNC9So This stuff was not that important most of the time until a lot of us began to drive more than a few miles per hour.

          • 0 avatar
            OliverTwist

            Roman Empire was first one to legislate driving on the left. Why?

            Simple answer: many Roman soldiers use their right hands to draw the sword and duel against their opponents.

            Pope Boniface VIII mandated all of pilgrims travelling to Rome stay on the left. Why?

            Latin adjective for left is sinister/sinistra/sinistrum.

            Americans started to drive on the right in the 1700s. Why?

            Due to wide open space, Americans attached four-strong cattle to the larger carts and wagons. It was easier to direct and control cattle if driver sat on the front, left ox. At the same time, it was easier to watch the wheel hubs when passing the approaching wagons.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            Not saying you’re wrong, but why would the driver sit on one of the oxen (not cow, that’s an important distinction to make) rather than on the wagon?

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            No, it isn’t particularly simple.

            For one, historians are doing a lot of guesswork when they figure out why one side was chosen over the other.

            For another, it is a mistake to apply a 21st century mindset to an 18th century decision. In an era with modern high speed cars, it is imperative to choose sides and maintain traffic controls. During a time when travel was slow, it didn’t matter nearly as much. Their idea of keeping right or left was not nearly as specific as it is today.

            As for the wagon theory:
            __________

            The wagon was operated either by the postilion driver riding the left-hand near horse-called the wheel horse-or by the driver walking or sitting on a “lazy board” on the left-hand side of the vehicle. He kept to the left in both cases in order to use the right hand to manage the horses and operate the brake lever mounted on the left-hand side. Passing therefore required moving to the right to give the driver forward vision.

            http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/right.cfm

            Remember that these are just theories. When keep right became state laws during the late 18th and 19th centuries, they didn’t bother to document why they created these rules.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @HighDesertCat
            “always wondered why some countries choose RHD, and others LHD. So why can’t we in the US”

            Good Question, if the U.S. Allows RHD cars on their roads, why not allow the British and Japanese to import their exotica without it having to be converted to LHD? Would bring the prices down

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @highdesertcat,
            If you look at most British Commonwealth nation they are RHD.

            This started way back 100s of year ago.

            The Crown always disembarked from the right hand side of their carriages.

            So, law was made to allow for this to occur.

          • 0 avatar
            TheyBeRollin

            Personally, I believe RHD is actually safer. More people are right handed resulting on the dominant hand being on the wheel more of the time.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan


            Personally, I believe RHD is actually safer. More people are right handed resulting on the dominant hand being on the wheel more of the time.

            The accident rate for places like Japan is very low indeed

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Every once in a great while I see a RHD vehicle with US plates being operated on American roads. And the person operating it in the right lane does not seem to have any problems doing so.

            Therefore, I personally see no reason why we, in America cannot have both LHD and RHD vehicles operating on our roads, while still driving in the right lane.

            Among the RHD vehicles operating on the roads in my area there are the Trash trucks, USPS AM General vehicles, a few Ford F150 trucks used by Mail Contractors, and some exotics brought to the US from overseas by ex-military personnel.

            Nicest RHD exotic I saw being driven in the right lane in the US was a beige classic Rolls-Royce like the one Gene Barry used in his TV series of the sixties.

            As I passed that car in the left lane of four-lane US70, my 8-yo twin grand kids popped up and excitedly told me, “Look, grandpa, a car without a driver!!!” (Seriously)

            Oh, and one more thing. While stationed in Europe, I saw that the French had a car with three seats across, and the steering wheel in the middle. No problems there either.

            Thanks to all who endeavored to educate me about the WHY and WHEREFORE of RHD/LHD.

          • 0 avatar
            gzuckier

            Might have made a difference whether people shifted with the left or right hand?

        • 0 avatar
          ccode81

          Sorry, but it is not cheap for Japan, and we can’t stand for construction traffic jam for this conversion, it will kill our productivity more than giant earthquakes.
          If any money has to be invested on infrastructure for safer driving, I’m sure it has to be something with auto driving than switching lanes.

          • 0 avatar
            Mandalorian

            US originally did drive on the left but it was changed at the time of the Revolutionary War as a means of differentiation from Britain. Same with coffee being popular instead of tea and spelling words differently like color vs colour.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            In practice, there was very little right-left orientation until cars became prevalent. Except in limited instances when there were keep-right/left rules that mattered, people rode their horses and drove their wagons pretty much as they pleased. (When traveling slowly, these rules matter little.)

        • 0 avatar
          bunkie

          I remember when Sweden made the switch. One important consideration was that, at the time, most cars in Sweden were already RHD models which made the change much easier. Also, they used a big-bang approach, with driving banned for 24 hours on the day of the switch. One day it was LHD, the next no driving at all and on the third day RHD everywhere. At the time, the Swedish population was about 5 million people.

          I seriously doubt that Britain would ever switch, the infrastructure costs alone would be staggering, given their population.

          Last December, I was driving in Dublin and being on the left didn’t take a great deal of adjustment. I found the maze of one-way roads and prohibitions against right turns at a very large percentage of the intersections to be a much bigger issue.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            FYI, RHD/LHD refers to the side of the car on which the steering wheel is located, not to the side of the road on which the cars are driven.

          • 0 avatar
            gzuckier

            That just demonstrates that Sweden has a saner population than most countries.
            It’s a matter of discrimination and fairness, though. If all countries become left hand drive, then in Siamese twins it will always be the left hand twin who does all the driving, everywhere.

        • 0 avatar
          ect

          No, more like 30%. India is nearly 1.3 billion, Pakistan almost 200 million, and Bangladesh 150 million. Probably another 250-300 million in Africa.

          Sweden was a case of a small country whose neighbours all drove on the right, so their switch was perfectly logical. For the others, there is no compelling reason to switch. Certainly, there is no inherent superiority in driving on the right or the left.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Based upon data from Wards, about 20% of the world’s vehicles are in RHD countries.

          For the sake of comparison, about one-quarter of the world’s vehicles are in the US and Canada.

          “I suspect Australia and Japan could pretty easily make the switch.”

          I would expect it to be difficult.

          Samoa recently switched from LHD to RHD. But that’s a small developing country with no major highways or freeways, so there’s no comparison.

        • 0 avatar

          In India like it is already total chaos even without switching to LHD. All former or current British colonies are RHD, I wonder though why Canada is not.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      How many Indians actually *buy cars*, though?

      You’re absolutely correct about the transition costs, though.

      Hundreds of millions is a lowball estimate. For even just Australia.

      Britain and Japan? Redo *every street* for signs and lights?

      It’d cost … trillions?

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    Here’s a nice map showing how insignificant are the remaining lefty regions.

    http://www.worldstandards.eu/cars/list-of-left-driving-countries/

    We can easily crush them.

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      You conveniently assume that land mass = economic influence.

      You want to claim that Britain, Japan, Indonesia and India comprise a socially and economically “insignificant” part of the world?

      Let’s not forget Malaysia/Singapore/Thailand and Australia, whose populations add up to roughly that of Japan.

      Yeah, let’s try to get these countries to spend trillions of their taxpayer dollars to rebuild their roads in the reverse direction, without economic incentive.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        The comment was meant in jest, sarcastically (possibly as a knock on how much this comment section devolved into mud-slinging today). I think you took it a little too seriously.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        As I noted above, 80% of the world’s vehicles are in LHD countries. Driving on the right is clearly dominant.

        That does not mean that switching away from RHD is economically feasible or a sound idea.

  • avatar
    Signal11

    How about we start with consistent indicator stalk placement with RHD cars? I’m tired of hitting my wipers ever other time I want to hit the indicator in an unfamiliar RHD car.

    Its bad enough that it takes a while to readjust to different control stalk placement when switching between LHD and RHD where you end up doing this a couple times anyway, RHD cars in non major markets have no consistency whatsoever whether the turn indicator is on the left or the right side of the drive column. How about we get that right first?

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @Signall 11
      Same experience driving LHD vehicles in Hawaii

      • 0 avatar
        TonyJZX

        this is largely meaningless

        by and large all Euro RHD cars have the indicator on the left side of the column (except curios like the F458 and California etc.)

        this is accepted as “Euro” as is the cruise and wipers on the right side

        its wrong i grant you but the market has spoken… people dont care

        • 0 avatar
          Signal11

          Get out and travel more, Tony.

          JDM RHD vehicles have the indicators on the right. UK/EU RHD models have them on the left. Australia is pretty consistent with the indicator on the right.

          Leave those confines and it’s a complete crapshoot. Get in a Subaru in East Africa or Southeast Asia – depending on the provenance of the vehicle, it’s a complete crapshoot whether that car will have the indicator on the right or the left.

          • 0 avatar
            TonyJZX

            there’s a mercedes and bmw downstairs now with the indicator on the left side of the column, next to the gearshift, we have two other cars that have the indicator on the right hand side

            we do fine thanks

            lord knows i agree with you, the indicator SHOULD be on the right side for the right hand on the opposite side of the gearstick but we live with it

            i am actually quite vociferous about it but the reality is, everyone makes do

          • 0 avatar
            Signal11

            Well, this is one of those every day annoyances that I run into because I split my time between four continents.

            In the developed RHD economies, there is some measure of consistency, but in the developing economies where I will be driving whatever vehicle is available, it is infuriating to be guessing at where your turn indicator stalk is.

            In your case, you have your cars and know what stalk does what. Me, I am getting int a constant stream of vehicles that I may or may not have been in before and in a RHD vehicle, its definitely a matter of trial and error to figure out which lever does what. This is never an issue in LHD countries. 5AM after a redeye arrival in a RHD country, I’m just guessing.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “UK/EU RHD models have them on the left.”

            As far as I can tell and remember, this varies by manufacturer. Fords put them on the left in the UK and Ireland; as I recall, some of the others put them on the right.

          • 0 avatar
            ccode81

            ISO recommends indicator on left, JIS recommends it is on right. I actually prefer it on right that can be used with my fore hand.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    ridiculous article

    two points: japan, India, the UK and Australia account for something like 12.5 to 13 million cars a year sold

    thats not including markets like HK, SG and ZA which is also significant

    so you think 12 million plus isnt a worthwhile market? also two of the largest forces in the auto world AND the biggest manufacturer reside in RHD countries

    horribly provincial, badly researched article but not unique sadly… there have been a number of articles asking for the same thing with the death of many a local car industry (what are they protecting?)

    secondly, the UK has a strong LHD market since they are in the EU economically speaking if not officially so LHD cars are accepted

    in this regard, it is up to the govt. to accept new LHD cars on their roads, they just choose not to…

    • 0 avatar

      How is asking a question “ridiculous”?

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        Mark Stevenson
        ” horribly provincial, badly researched article but not unique sadly… there have been a number of articles asking for the same thing with the death of many a local car industry (what are they protecting?)”

        Could not agree more, you and quite others who post here do not have the slightest inkling what happens outside NA

        • 0 avatar

          I’m not asking for anything; merely offering up a question. I see many efficiencies on the manufacturing end that could be realized if all countries drove on the same side of the road. LHD countries outnumber RHD countries. LHD vehicle sales outnumber RHD vehicle sales. If the situation were reversed, I would be asking the same question with an opposite slant.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @Mark Stevenson
            Quite simple just have the U.S. Make their Pickups in RHD/LHD
            Like Thailand does with Global pickups, not an issue
            Then ask GM why they make low volume cars the Corvette in LHD?

          • 0 avatar

            My guess: pickups offer more engine configurations than models like Corvette, etc. To engineer all those options for RHD for a limited number of sales in Australia is likely not financially feasible. I keep reading this magical “200 unit” limit for pickup imports? Maybe you can clarify. Low volume cars like Corvette also have fairly large profit margins.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @Mark Stevenson,
            Corvettes can be sold in Japan, UK, Australia and all the other RHD markets. The Germans, Koreans etc do not have a problem, only the US

          • 0 avatar
            OliverTwist

            Perhaps we ought to ask ourselves why is the United States still stubbornly refusing to harmonise its FMVSS with UN-ECE as Australia and Japan as well as other countries do.

            That would eliminate the need to design, certify, and manufacture the vehicles specifically for the US regulations.

            Canada almost did in 2000 only to be threatened with ‘economic sanctions’ by the Big Three if the government went that route.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @OliverTwist,
            I have the same thoughts.

            It is costing over $13 billion dollars a year to the US consumer by not using a system of compliance as the US’es trading partners.

            This doesn’t even take into account LHD or RHD.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Mark Stevenson,
            The magical 200 number isn’t the total allowed in country.

            It is how many vehicles you are limited to as an individual to import.

            Like I mentioned to another commenter here on TTAC the other day if every Australian imported 100 vehicle or pickups or whatever we’d have 2.4 billion vehicles as grey imports.

            That is quite a few.

            To set up a factory and convert more than 200 vehicles per year and cover your costs is almost impossible as well.

            That’s nearly producing one vehicle every working day.

            How many $90 000 Comaro’s will sell at that price when I can go out and buy far better performance vehicles, much cheaper.

            How many full size pickups will sell at $80k when I can go out and buy 2 or 3 pickup for that price.

            That’s why US pickups here are toys and SUVs.

            Until the US produces RHD vehicles that are competitive we will not buy them.

            FCA produces competitive RHD vehicles and we buy them.

            Toyota in the US manufactures RHD Klugers or as you call them Highlanders and we buy them.

            If it is manufactured globally we will buy it.

            That’s what’s great about our car market.

            You can buy what you want or that has ever been made globally. We aren’t constrained by many regulations and tariffs.

            Freedom of choice, it’s great.

        • 0 avatar
          Alfisti

          Errrr he has a dog named Maloo, as in the ute.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        ” If you imported it then why does it have to go through an aftermarket company and be sold at over twice its original cost?
        How about this we import small trucks ”
        If you made it RHD like other countries except the U.S. Do not a problem

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      12 to 13 million would be worthwhile if it were a single manufacturer selling those cars, but you have 13 million split between many makes and models plus different regulations. Take India for example. How many buy a Tata instead of a $30k US car?

  • avatar
    PaulieWalnut

    It’s not worth the cost and inconvenience. You don’t see anyone living in those countries clamouring to change the status quo.

    It’s also worth noting that once you do the switch, all existing cars in that country will be set up for driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. This would lead to an increase in road traffic deaths.

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    Sweden switched in the 1950’s or so. Over a weekend they disallowed all traffic and converted all intersections. Obviously back then fewer people had a car. today it would be nearly impossible.

    I think switching to the metric system would be easy, and people refuse. What makes you think switching to driving the opposite will be done by people?

    I’m all for forcing the minority to drive like the majority. But consider traditionally oxcarts and horse carriages drove on the left side of the street (or path back then). Knights fighting each other had their lance in the right hand (for being right-handed). So they crossed each other on the left side.
    Napoleon implemented a blockade of the UK and for some reason thought switching all occupied Europe to driving on the right hand side would help him with that. So the people driving on the left side are actually right.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      That is because they had RHD and two LHD countries together. As a result SWeden had some of the highest accident rates it ever experienced,

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      The Swedes were already driving LHD cars, so it was easier.

      There are more cars and infrastructure now than there were 50 years ago, so the cost today would be much higher. Some of that modern infrastructure can be difficult to reverse, particularly freeways/motorways.

    • 0 avatar
      OliverTwist

      Sweden had a referendum in 1955 about amending its rule of the road to the right-hand traffic. The switch took place on 3 September 1967, which was called Dagen H (H Day).

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dagen_H

  • avatar
    rjones

    Oh how I miss the days when Robert Farago was running the show here. This level of discourse would never be permitted. Back then the comments used to be a pleasurable and informative read. Now they’re a train wreck.

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    Methinks it’s time for a comment voting system. Any comments which do not contribute to civil discourse would be hidden.

  • avatar

    In a word…no. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with certain countries continuing to drive on the left side of the road. Because of the way many vehicles are developed, it doesn’t impose an undue hardship on global automakers, and it’s just part of the cost of doing business if they want to seriously get into those RHD markets. As far as tourists go, the overwhelming majority knows to switch over to the correct side of the road, so a few outliers shouldn’t invoke an industry shake-up. Switch up the traffic direction in RHD markets, though, and I promise you that you’ll have *several* thousand more people accidentally driving on the incorrect side of the road, for quite some time.

    What would be extremely nice, however, is if we unified U.S. and Euro emissions, crashworthiness and lighting standards. That would probably save automakers a lot more money, even considering the number of people who might then try to import Euro-market cars instead of buying new ones here.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @ Kyree S Williams
      “Because of the way many vehicles are developed, it doesn’t impose an undue hardship on global automakers, and it’s just part of the cost of doing business if they want to get into those RHD markets”
      Which I assume US Automakers are not that interested in selling their Pickups or Sportscars, as they do not make them RHD

      • 0 avatar

        “Which I assume US Automakers are not that interested in selling their Pickups or Sportscars, as they do not make them RHD”

        It’s not that they aren’t interested; it’s that these markets aren’t interested in their American-oriented products. Many USDM pickup trucks are just too big and wasteful and costly and garish for overseas markets, and don’t sell well because of that…so no, they don’t do RHD versions. If they thought they could seriously sell a worthwhile number of pickups in RHD markets, they’d build RHD variants…but they don’t. So if Ford offers, say, an F-150 in the UK, it will pretty much come exactly as they would in the US, with whatever minor modifications that are needed to make it road-legal in the UK. It’s sort of like, “Here, take it or leave it.”

        Conversely, Ford has developed the new Mustang with a global market in mind—a goal that I feel Ford has achieved in splendid fashion—and so has gone ahead and developed an official RHD version.

        My point is that it’s all about demand. There is a certain cost associated with developing a RHD variant of a LHD car that prohibits the act in some cases, but for vehicles that actually have a decent chance of selling in RHD markets, it’s negligible.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          @ Kyree S Williams
          Could it be lack of demand, is related to a lack of supply.? I. e. Porsche has developed a healthy demand for their products by increasing the supply considerablty in Australia
          Still other places are not going to warm to US Pickups,Sportscars because the do not meet needs, as you said

          • 0 avatar

            Possibly. But with a lot of these cars, you’re still talking about two kinds of products:

            a) Vehicles that are largely ill-suited to the wants and needs of overseas markets, and are therefore niche offerings whose importation/retrofit/distribution costs aren’t worth whatever meager demand they have. For example, many enthusiasts (myself included) have cried for Volkswagen to bring the Scirocco back to the States, but it’d end up being sold at a price that would only be palatable to die-hard enthusiasts…and not worth the cost to Volkswagen…not to mention America’s aversion to even svelte, coupe hatchbacks. (Remember the C30?) And really, there is a whole sorry history of desirable European cars (many from Volkswagen Group) that were brought to the States, and sold in such minuscule numbers that they are no longer available.

            b) Rather mediocre or even sub-par products with limited support, whose few advantages are matched or exceeded by other, readily-available cars in those markets. This is what would happen if Ford seriously tried to sell the current Taurus to the EU market. There might be a few people who just have a “thing” for a large, tank-like, FWD American sedan underpinned by an ancient Volvo platform…but then consider that car competing in price against the new EU Passat, which is just better in every way. Or, for a US-focused example, take a look at the British-Chinese MG6 sedan, and guess how well it’d sell against our current crop of mid-sized sedans. It’s like the woman that you stay with because she’s the only one who’ll put up with your crap. Some cars are really only acceptable in their domestic markets.

            As far as Porsche, which you mentioned, goes, its cars—unlike these others—are pretty universally desirable, and its facilities are significantly more constrained than anything producing what would otherwise be a run-of-the-mill car. So that would put a strain on the supply of worldwide Porsches. But that’s not what’s happening here. It’s not the case that strong demand for the new F-150 in the U.S. is causing a shortage of supply for it in the EU; the EU largely just doesn’t want that kind of vehicle, or won’t pay the costs associated with acquiring and owning it.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Maybe yes but I cannot see this happening. My biggest thing is what is the cost to change the road markings, signs, stoplights, bus stops, etc etc?

    To me, I would think it makes more sense we start with safety and emissions standards. One global first world standard (North America, Europe, Japan, Australia, and I guess China or Brazil) where 1 standard allows all vehicles in one region to be sold in another without modification.

    I think this would allow a better selection of engines and transmissions around the world, lower prices since platforms can be tested then sold anywhere, and best safety features to advance. For example orange signals or infinitely adjustable high beams.

    • 0 avatar

      I think it will be some time before China is interested in developing its domestic cars to a global standard. They tend to be engineered on what most major automakers would consider to be shoestring budgets, so that even things like wind-tunnel testing are often skipped.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      One reason that we continue to have differing standards is because it reduces the costs for the automakers.

      They don’t want the added expense of California emissions rules (the strictest there are) and US crashworthiness (which is intended to deal with higher speeds and greater weight) when they can avoid it. They would rather change content to meet local requirements, offering US spec only when they have to while offering very little safety and emissions equipment in the developing world.

      When automakers claim that they want to have common standards, that is code for saying that they want to reduce US standards, or at least have the right to go jurisdiction shopping when choosing how they configure a car for safety. No thanks.

  • avatar
    slance66

    Since I am just returned from Ireland, thought I’d weigh in. Everybody should drive on the right hand side of the road, in LHD vehicles. Unfortunately, it will never happen as the infrastructure is built and can’t be easily changed.

    I attribute the prevalence of left lane driving in RHD vehicles, which exists primarily in the later British colonies that broke free well after 1776, to a massive dose of LSD and or stupidity. There is nothing sensible about it. I observed pedestrians in Dublin and Galway and they seemed to have a natural “keep right” approach when walking (as is the case everywhere I’ve been), yet drive the opposite.

  • avatar
    CX1

    Also, if the rest of the world could ditch the metric system, call soccer by its correct name and start buying full sized trucks that would be great. mmmmmm-k?

    • 0 avatar

      I think Bhutan and the US (and the UK with respect to road distances) can adopt metric a lot more easily than the 200+ other countries could adopt the non-metric system. Besides, whose gallon would we use?

  • avatar
    ccode81

    Estimate the cost of converting the extreame expensive land of Japan to right lane, and you’ll realize how pointless the quote is.
    I have RHD Jag and LHD Alfa in Tokyo where both legal. Both has pros and cons, but I don’t have conclusion which is more easier to drive. It’s such small difference, if you don’t know. Insurance company do not charge extra to LHD since there is no difference in accident rate on their statics.

  • avatar
    TW5

    I’d like to say ‘yes’, but India and Japan are the sticky wickets. Japan is an auto manufacturing powerhouse and India has 1 billion people conditioned to left-side transit. As long as the lefties are willing to pay a premium for right-hand drive, conversion will not happen.

    Perhaps some countries will make the switch on their own, but I doubt Australia will be one of them. They rely on auto manufacturing in the Pacific Rim. For all of the great American and European vehicles they’d gain, they’d lose Asian-built models. Plus, they have a Down-Under connection with New Zealand, and I suspect conversion would need to be bilateral. Sort of like the US-Canada relationship, though Australia and New Zealand do not share a border.

    I think the UK and Ireland are more likely to switch than Australia. Perpetually slumping/unstable economies + immense EU pressure to streamline and homogenize everything = massive demand-side public works stimulus.

  • avatar
    Alfisti

    I don’t see why we’d switch either BTW, if driving a manual your “weak” hand for most people) is the one on the wheel, shifting with the left hand surely makes more sense? As does fiddling with the radio or the HVAC or whatever.

    As for the large US “trucks”, which are not trucks by the way, a truck is a truck .. these are utes or pick-ups … why truck??? Oh and why tractor trailor?? That makes absolutely no sense. Anyway, I cannot see demand for these “trucks” as they are just too damned big. Australian roads are very narrow in urban areas compared to the average US suburban street.

  • avatar
    thatguy

    QOTD: Is It Time for non-English speaking countries to switch to English??

    Folks, its 2015 and we still live in a world where, depending on what country you live in, you speak different languages. Isn’t it time for this to change?

    It would certainly make it a lot easier to develop, engineer, and sell global products. It would make cities safer (every year there’s always at least one tourist who doesn’t speak the language). Chinese could get all the Faulkner and Dickens they want. We could have saved the Russian literary scene. Everyone could have been happy.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Well, there are a lot of countries that add English to their schooling requirements even if they don’t officially speak it specifically because it makes doing business easier.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Cost-benefit ratio says “no.” Switching would be an enormously expensive effort in exchange for virtually no benefit.

  • avatar
    wmba

    BAFO must be on lunch break today so we aren’t getting a lecture on how Australia is paradise, nor how World Government should work as determined by an intellectual helicopter mechanic slaving away in tropical Northern Territory. RR is upholding the might of Orstrilia, and as usual is barely coherent.

    This QOTD is totally ridiculous, anyway, and betrays a lack of knowledge of the automotive scene globally. Disappointing.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      @womb,
      No, I’m at home, had an operation last week and you will have to endure my intelligent dialogue for only another two weeks.

      I don’t know much about helicopters, though. If you want some information on supersonic or even transonic flight, just ask, I’m willing to expand your little melon up top and educate you poor Qubecistanian ex CAW workers.

      Remember, if you want civil and intelligent dialogue, use my name.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    I would say it is easier to make 2 (LHD, RHD) versions of a car than it is for a non US manufacturer to make a US specific version of a car. Asking whole countries to go through the massive expense and effort to change a lifetime of infrastructure and deal with the cost to citizens of needing to replace their cars sooner than expected is frankly flat out rude. Many of the countries listed have huge populations, vast infrastructure and simply could not afford the tax bill.
    If the USA switched to Metric and alined it’s safety standards with the entire rest of the world, all manufacturers would gain huge cost benefits at no loss to a few key countries and it would be considerably easier to sell all sorts of cars in places that where not economically possible before.

    • 0 avatar
      slance66

      Align safety standards with the rest of the world? Why? The last thing I want is the “rest of the world” determining safety standards for us.

      As for metric, I have a deal: USA adopts metric for distances and volumes, but not weight. The entire world ditches Celsius, which stinks for evaluating temperature as it affects the human condition. They can use it for science. Fahrenheit is brilliant at describing how humans experience temperature.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Also, there is no US vs. “rest of the world.” Standards vary from place to place.

        It would seem that some folks skimmed a Wikipedia article, misunderstood it, and make sweeping conclusions based upon their lack of knowledge. In the real world, third world countries have inferior to standards to industrialized nations, while Japan’s application of UNECE requires OEMs to have everything certified specifically for Japan before it can be imported, even if it was built to supposed UNECE standards.

  • avatar
    jjster6

    I agree all the world should conform to driving on the right side of the road. But it should be phased in gradually. Motorcycles one month, passenger cars the next, and large trucks/buses in the last month.

    Also, I believe the rest of the world should plan their day around Eastern Standard Time. That would make my life much easier.

  • avatar
    redav

    Once everything is “_____ by wire,” there won’t be much for packaging issues.

    And every country needs to agree on standards and codes to eliminate engineering redesign for various markets. I’m not opposed to that.

    However, the side of the road you drive on is the most fundamental aspect of driving; switching it requires a foundational cultural change. Thus, I don’t see it happening no matter how much it would make sense or improve transferability. Even if it could be proven to save lives, I still don’t think it would happen.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    I read about a study a few years ago that comes to the conclusion that driving on the right causes fewer traffic fatalities. It basically came down to handedness. In an emergency situation, people tend to protect themselves with their weak (left) hand, which means the right hand is jerking the wheel to the right. In the US, that puts you in the ditch. In the UK, it puts you into oncoming traffic.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      The counter theory is that driving on the left is marginally safer because most people are right-eye dominant; driving on the left puts your better eye closer to the opposing side of the road.

  • avatar
    patrick-bateman

    Mark,

    As an Australia who was interested in the Volt, I can share several reasons why I didn’t buy one :-

    Price :- $60,000AUD, at a time when the AUD and USD were parity. To give you an example it was more expensive than a VF SS-V Redline, and there was zero discounting. Then when you hear about $199 per month leases in the US, it really reinforces the poor value this car was in Australia.

    Looks :- The Volt was quirky looking, but I think the Opel Ampera looked far better. I always wondered why we didn’t get the Euro version.

    As such it didn’t even make it to test drive stage, and I’m far happier with a 2014 Audi S3.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      @Patrick-bateman,
      The cost in the US has plenty taxpayer dollars given to the customer for EVs and hybrids.

      Do you want to pay more taxes so I can buy a subsidised dually Silverado I want?

      So, why should someone pay additional taxes so you can buy a subsidised Volt?

  • avatar
    dal20402

    The costs to convert large countries like India or highly developed ones like the UK would be staggering — every freeway ramp would need to be revised — and would have a broad impact on those countries. I find it very hard to justify that just for the sake of making things a bit cheaper for automakers.

  • avatar
    Slow_Joe_Crow

    The story I have always heard is that left side running (RHD) goes all the way back to at least medieval times when the idea was to have your sword hand facing oncoming traffic. Right hand running (LHD) was a prdouct of the French Revolution and desire to do away with all things Ancien Regime. This carried over to cars and trains where the British Empire and places with a large British influence (Japan and parts of South America) run on the left and the rest of the world runs on the right.
    There are also numerous instances of deliberate wrong side drive. Some open pit mines have their LHD haul trucks run on the left side of the road, to reduce injuries in crashes since 2 trucks overlapping will hit air filters instead of cabs. Heavy trucks in Italy were frequently RHD to provide a better view of the edges of narrow roads and of course curbside delivery vehicles and sweepers are often RHD in LHD countries.
    I think RHD countries should consider switching but I suspect that a mix of economic interests and politics will prevent any other countries following Sweden any time soon.

  • avatar
    pdomingos

    Since we’re at it, why doesn’t US change to metric units anyways? :)

    “Folks, its 2015 and we still live in a world where, depending on what country you live in,” you read miles or kilometers.

  • avatar
    bd2

    Would make sense to make the switch (would be much more cost efficient for the automakers – maybe they can pitch in and help fund those countries to make the switch).

    But at the same time, would also make sense for the US to adopt the metric system, but don’t see that happening anytime soon.

  • avatar

    move all you chauvinist left-hand drivers to the right, eh? shifting with the left paw is so much more fun. carparks are confusing, however.

  • avatar
    mr_min

    The majority is wrong.
    The British got it right and all you heathen RH siders should convert to the LH side of the road. :)

  • avatar
    spreadsheet monkey

    As a Brit, I’d happily switch to driving on the right. And standardise safety and emissions regs across Europe and North America, as well.

    “Lack of economies of scale” is often cited as a reason for cars costing so much over here. There are some exceptions, but generally you guys pay roughly the same in dollars for a given car as we pay in pounds sterling (the exchange rate is around 1.6$/£)

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    The US maintaining a standard opposite England’s did once serve a purpose. Visiting English sociopaths were at risk from looking the wrong way when stepping from a curb into traffic.

    But now that the English are “a little people, a silly people” it no longer matters.

  • avatar
    Forty2

    Certainly in the western hemisphere RHD is a tiny minority anachronism. I was in Guyana a few years ago for work (RHD former British colony) and to buy a new car there is absurdly expensive. I was repeatedly asked if one could buy a RHD car in the US and have it shipped. Neighboring Suriname is also RHD. LHD cars are banned. So at least in Guyana and Suriname, switching would make sense as these are tiny markets surrounded by LHD countries. But for the eastern hemisphere, probably not going to happen.


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